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Supporting problematic artists

Many celebrated artists have been involved in scandals or socially problematic situations. From today’s Chris Brown to the deceased David Foster Wallace, many popular artists of their trade have been tangled up in scandals and/or crimes. Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Is it possible to celebrate someone’s work without supporting the artist, too?

  • A very timely topic. I think it's important to define what problematic means. It seems certain celebrities are "cancelled" for comparably minor offences compared to what is swept under the rug for others. There's also a difference between modern scandals that are known to be problematic as they occur, and generations past who do things that we now today see as problematic but were not considered so at the time. – Erin McIntyre 9 months ago
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  • I would argue that it is possible, especially if the artist in question is no longer alive. If you're simply reading (or watching or listening to) the work of someone who's dead, then they can't get any benefit from it. In that case, I'd argue, separating the artist from the work is a fairly straightforward process. Where it gets complicated is where the artist is still alive, and your purchasing the work would be rewarding their efforts (or lack thereof). – Debs 9 months ago
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  • I absolutely love this topic, and it's a discussion that I have often. Personally, I choose not to support artists, dead or alive, who have been tangled up in any crimes or scandals (although, Debs's comment above about the dead not necessarily gaining anything is quite insightful). I think that the tricky part with this conversation and the reason why I always opt for not supporting the artist or their work because I think that no matter the person, their actions need to be held accountable – sabinaramroop 9 months ago
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  • "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Albert Einstein – AntonioFarfanFiorani 8 months ago
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  • I think this is a very important thing to discuss; unfortunately, almost any public figure will have their fair share of controversy. My mind immediately went to John Lennon. I am a huge fan of The Beatles, yet I feel a little bit uncomfortable when I think to his treatment of his wives and children. It is hard to ignore when a favorite writer, artist, singer, et cetera is problematic. I think maybe "celebrate" is the wrong word; you can still enjoy "Strawberry Fields Forever" without thinking John Lennon was infallible. The only distinction I will make is if someone commits a heinous act, especially one against children. – allisonhambrick 4 months ago
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  • There was a recent article posted by Rolling Stone in reference to the new Hulu original series High Fidelity. In one of the episodes, the owner, Robin, gets into an argument with her co-worker about whether or not it's okay for her to sell a customer Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" record. Robin retaliates by arguing that her co-worker can't judge because she (a black American) still listens to Kanye West, who has been vocal about supporting Trump and "raps in a MAGA hat". You should check it out! I guess the question is, when do we stop supporting the artists, regardless of their accomplishments? Is it okay to outcast them because they disagree with our political, religious, social, or economic beliefs? Or do we stop supporting them when they are perpetrators of violent crimes? Or... do we separate the art from the artist, and if so, how can we justify the ability to do that? – hilalbahcetepe 4 months ago
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